The Welsh National League has been disbanded after almost 75 years in part of Wales’ big football shake-up, writes PHIL JONES.

My journey involving grassroots football covers a period of six decades so I have witnessed the good times and bad.

There are so many clubs today who have had an amazing presence from day one with Chirk AAA and Druids United being top dogs across the principality.

Research shows Chirk’s star player was their captain Edmund Davies, who later went on to play for Queens Park Rangers.

They won the Welsh Amateur Cup in 1959, 1960 and 1963 and as a youngster, I watched the 1959 final at the Wrexham Racecourse when they defeated Whitchurch Alport in front of a crowd of 5,000.

The main driving force at the club was Sid Davies who was their coach and later chairman from 1945 until mid -Sixties.

Davies’ grandson is Roger Pearce, whose name will also go down in club folklore for being a key player, manager and chairman of their club over a 40 year period and is still actively involved today with his son Philip who is club captain.

Standing out for his service to Chirk since the late-Seventies is Nigel Roberts who is still actively involved today.

For two decades, the club just soldiered along but kick-starting their revival in the 80’s was John Green, putting together a title-winning team in 1984 which included former Wrexham players Dixie McNeil and Alan Dwyer.

Club favourites at the time were Keiron Cooke and the infamous Roberts brothers, Billy and Paul. More latterly, Mark Holmes has also won many admirers and he managed the Welsh Trophy winning side in 2017. Another member of the Roberts dynasty is Joe, who has been a leading scorer for the club in the last decade.

Rich in heritage, of course, are Druids United but most of their dominance was way before my time but prior to becoming Cefn Druids, I have some fond memories and the first one being the power of goal machine Geoff Lloyd who joined Wrexham FC and quickly made a name for himself.

Writing the headlines in more recent times have been Dave Taylor and Aled Rowlands and, Huw Griffiths who took his side on two European expeditions.

Also vying for the honour of being one of the most ever successful sides were Brymbo Steelworks who can boast being Welsh Amateur Cup winners in 1967 but in the league they have been crowned champions an amazing 14 times.

Their early day success can be credited in many ways to the driving force of chairman Doug Edwards who is the grandfather of one of their best ever servants Martin Edwards.

Club stalwarts were Keith Lea, TK Evans, Sozzer, John Williams, Maxie Parry and Norman Roberts and not to forget the late Mike Beech.

They had a renaissance when Clive Thompson pulled together a squad of sheer class such as Nigel Beaumont, Mark Challoner, Mark Cartwright and Ted Edwards.

Striking up a strong friendship with Alan Edwards who enjoyed much success with Brymbo and New Broughton, I remember with great delight taking the attached picture creating history turning out for Brymbo alongside his son Sean and grandson Aaron.

Two managers stood out - Dave “Yozzer” Hughes and Ross Sankey. As Mold Alex manager, Dave pulled off some real pranks and flexed the rule book more than most.

But what a team though he built at Alyn Park. Darryl Williams and Andy Gittins were sheer class as was Ian Edwards while full-back Ian Fraser was the most competitive and fearsome of players. In fact Yozzer always called him his ‘silent assassin’.

Lex XI caused a stir in 1983 when they bought Stansty Park from Wrexham FC. They also appointed Sankey as manager and he brought with him many if not most of the Brymbo Steelworks side.

Helped by his backroom team of George McGowan and Colin Wright, for eight years they lifted honours galore.

He built his success around the like Garry Fisher, Chris Edwards, Chris Lloyd, Aly Williams Keith Jones and Ray Merrill, who won a non league Welsh international cap.

Goalkeeper Mike Keen and chirpy midfielder Nicky Hencher went on to join Wrexham and although Gareth Powell earned enormous success at Stansty, it was in the early Cymru Alliance era they made a coup in signing Robbie Savage who made his debut for the reserves against Llay Welfare Reserves after being released by Manchester United.

What is amazing of the club is that founder members from 1965 Viv Reeves and Wynford Owen are still key lynchpins at the club as chairman and treasurer.

Fierce rivalry has always been the order of the day and visits to Nant-Y-Gaer Road to face Llay RBL were always made it trepidation as their gentle giant of a manager Glyn Bannister was feared by most.

Brian Badwick, Ray Garston, Dinky Fisher, Paul Dodd, Brian Booth and Alan Pritchard were his star performers while Cefn Albion have earned much success both in the 1980s and now in recent times where the impact of defender Paul Griffiths and striker Ian Oliver Jones has been immense.

The both come from great bloodstock with their predecessors Alan and Peter Davies being the foundation the club was built on.

Tony Lockley must be by far the most underrated footballer I have ever come across and they had terrific servants in Nicky Rogers, Dai Williams and Mike Plunkett.

Colin Heyward, behind the scenes, fulfilled many roles and their keeper Hayden Evans all those years ago was their ‘clown prince’ and nowadays their club chairman.

The late Darren ‘Coco’ Roberts and Martin Ford defied adversity at FC Queens Park and earned formidable success.

Now under the stewardship of the immensely popular Dave Evans and Macca Ellis, they are entering a difficult test again at the moment facing life in the North East Wales league and this will be made much more difficult by the fact that Barry Torrence has joined Gresford Athletic.

Gresford have earned much respect for blooding home-grown talent. Johnny and Nev White plus Gerry Evans go down in folklore while Sammy Jones took his side from obscurity into the Cymru Alliance and playing key support roles behind the scenes have been Chas Rowland, Ron Hennessey, Brian Holmes and Julian Davies.

It was an amazing success story when they recruited the complete Darland school team who came through the leagues in lightning speed to achieve Premier Division status.

Prior to taking on the manager’s role at Clappers Lane, Sammy cut his management teeth at Grapes FC and he pulled together a formidable side which included Ronnie Roden, Ianto Davies, Brian Booth and rugged defender Geoff Phillips.

Everyone raised their game when facing Wrexham Reserves and they had the dynamic duo at the helm in Idris Pryce and Brian Prandle who probably would win the award for being “Mr Nice Guy” hands down.